ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday called for an international probe into reports that India used chemical munitions in held Kashmir against civilians.

“We call upon the international community, particularly, relevant international organisations to initiate investigations into reports” about “Indian forces in IoK using ammunition containing chemical agents and precursors to kill Kashmiri youth and destroy Kash­miris’ properties,” FO spok­es­man Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly media briefing.

He cited the discovery of charred bodies of Kashmiri youth from the debris of five houses destroyed by the Indian forces at Bahmnoo and Kakpora in Pulwama, which had been burnt beyond visual recognition.

The spokesman claimed that more similar attacks had been committed by the Indian Army. “If use of chemicals in the ammunition is confirmed, then it would constitute a serious violation of international norms and India’s international obligations under Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” he said.

A series of international treaties, specifically the CWC, prohibits the use of chemical weapons not only in international armed conflicts but also non-international armed conflicts rather in all circumstances.

It is the first time that such a serious allegation has been levelled by Pakistan against India.

Khamenei’s statement

Mr Zakaria welcomed Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement against Indian atrocities for suppressing the uprising in held Kashmir.

“We welcome Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement. The entire Muslim Ummah is concerned over grave human rights situation in IoK,” he said, noting that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had repeatedly condemned Indian atrocities and called for an independent fact-finding mission to be sent to India-held Kashmir.

Ayatollah Khamenei twice over the past few days spoke about the oppression of Kashmiris and called for supporting their cause.

“Pakistan believes that India must be confronted to immediately stop the bloodshed in IoK and call for an early implementation of relevant UNSC resolutions that promise Kashmiris UN-supervised plebiscite to exercise their right to self-determination,” the FO spokesman said.

Mr Zakaria expressed concern over the United States’ offer to sell Guardian drones to India and said such actions could destabilise the strategic balance in the region.

The international community, he maintained, should objectively assess highly destabilising consequences of its actions and policies towards South Asia. Pakistan, he said, would continue to raise this issue in bilateral engagements as we as multilateral forums. “Pakistan will not be oblivious to the imperative of safeguarding its national security.”

Terrorist sanctuaries

The FO spokesman once again rejected the allegations that terrorists carrying out attacks in Afghanistan were having sanctuaries on Pakistani soil as mere rhetoric. “It is an attempt to put the blame of failures in Afghanistan on others,” he said about those accusing Pakistan.

The FO denial came ahead of the completion of US policy review, which is expected in about a week’s time. It is expected that under the new policy, the US will get tougher with Pakistan over allegations about sanctuaries.

“As a result of Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations, without any discrimination, the terrorists are on the run and their infrastructure has been dismantled. These terrorists, namely TTP, TTA, Daesh, JuA, remnants of Al Qaeda and a number other splinter groups are settled in the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan. TTP and TTA have fled to Afghanistan. In Pakistan, there is no organised presence of any of those terror outfits,” Mr Zakaria explained.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2017

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